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Music Picks


wouldVARIOUS ARTISTS Just Because I’m a Woman: Songs of Dolly Parton ****

Dolly’s not just DDD-breasted fodder for tabloids; she’s an inimitable songwriter with the voice of a nightingale. The tributes on this album are quite stunning, with the exceptions of Melissa Ethridge slaughtering “I Will Always Love You” and overrated Norah Jones’ ho-hum cover of “The Grass is Blue.” Emmylou Harris’ rendering of “To Daddy” is heartbreaking, Mindy Smith makes “Jolene” bleed, and Sinead O’ Connor chokes out “Dagger Through the Heart” with just the right amount of bile. (Sugar Hill)

MARGARET CHO Revolution ***

Cho combines stand-up comedy with guerrilla warfare against racism and the media’s twisted images of women, with mixed results. Cho’s funniest when she compares monogamy to prostitution for “really low wages” (“I’ll do oral and anal if you take out the garbage”) and her story of soiling her pants in the car after six months of a persimmons-only diet. Unfortunately, the CD loses something without the comic’s expressive visuals. (Nettwerk)

TRAVIS 12 Memories **

Travis is singer-songwriterly symphonic pop with a touch of Beatles whimsy, and if you played a metronome through all of 12 Memories, the songs would probably stay right on beat—they never change tempo. Most gifted musicians with a full orchestra at their disposal wouldn’t have let this zero-risk album be the result, but Travis makes the most of the clarinet in “Paperclips’” and bells in “Somewhere Else.” (Independiente)

MXPX Before Everything & After **

Before’s downers: 1. Crotch planted squarely in the middle of the front cover. 2. These lyrics: “All I ever needed was to eat popcorn with you.” 3. The lame guitar riff in “Kings of Hollywood.” 4. Naming a song “Kings of Hollywood.” Uppers: 1. The occasional brain shutdown with pop-punk bubblegum and fuzzy Golden Lab puppies pouring from the speakers just feels good. 2. One word: Mike. (A& )

FUEL Natural Selection *

This woulda-coulda-shoulda-been metal, “angry” pop-ballad album—which I listened to in its entirety, just like that sucktastic Pennywise album—irredeemably blows! When did music become supplanted by image and what toilet were you sleeping on when it happened? And what’s funnier: Brett Scallions wearing a Motrhead T-shirt, or the possibility of Lemmy wearing a Fuel T-shirt? Plus, which Fuel title has more sexual innuendos: “Luck,” “Down Inside of You” or “Getting Thru”? (Epic)

Music CD Revue 1CDDDF9F-2BF4-55D0-F1FD1499EB1E6ECE 2007-06-11 16:18:29.0 1 1 0 2003-10-16 00:00:00.0 0 0
Rebecca Vernon

THE GLASSPACK Powderkeg ****

Hell yeah. The Glasspack makes all other Sabbath wannabes look like brats picking their noses in a sandbox. Singer Dirty Dave howls like his throat has been slashed; ultra-distorted, buzzy stoner bass meets wah-wah orgies and burning, frothy guitar solos to make a combination dirtier and nastier than Jucifer, Speedealer and Turbonegro (yes, even Turbonegro) combined. Sex, whisky, Satan, marijuana, moonshine and fuzz-pedal manipulation—all yours, direct from Louisville, Ken-freakin’-tucky. (Small Stone)

THE STRATFORD 4 Love & Distortion ***

Walls and walls of feedback create a huge, shimmering nebula of plaintive charm woven out of golden fairy dust, the kind that can lift a ship into the sky. If the Warlocks and Brian Jonestown Massacre attended therapy sessions in the Alps, this is what they’d sound like. Certain moments recall Stone Roses, especially in the echo-y production. Spry drums and thick, cheeky guitar give an overall air of upbeat melancholia. (JetSet)

DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE Transatlanticism ***

DCFC have some of the most exquisite lyrics in the music world, the kind that cut your heart like true poetry should: “So this is the New Year and I have no resolutions/It’s self-assigned penance for problems with easy solutions.” Live, DCFC makes some of the most rockin’, 3-D emo ever dreamt, but unfortunately, this album only comes close to capturing that in several songs, as in “We Looked Like Giants.” (Barsuk)

DAVID BOWIE Reality **

The prince is back, with a sugared pop treat laid gently on your tongue like a wafer, and a lesson to learn: There is a fine line between good and bad pop. “She’ll Drive,” “Days” and “Never Get Old” are yawners that fall short of the proper shroud for the aching spiritual messages Bowie tries to convey, yet “Looking for Water,” “New Killer Star” and “Reality” succeed where the others fail. (Columbia)


Sevendust is nothing more than Linkin Park nü-metal dressed up with tattoos, requisite eyebrow piercings and “tough” attitude (ha!)—aren’t 14-year-old kiddies smart enough to see through this? The souped-up, choppy guitar riffs of the verses clash against sickeningly melodic choruses like a Bloody Mary poured with ketchup; re-recycled riffs make the songs indistinguishable from one another. Stop, 14-year-olds! There are other options! (TVT)

Music CD Revue 1CDDE05B-2BF4-55D0-F1F374DCBDCE3341 2007-06-11 16:18:29.0 1 1 0 2003-10-09 00:00:00.0 0 0
Rebecca Vernon

THE RAVEONETTES Chain Gang of Love ****

Back in all their noir B-movie glory, the Raveonettes tenderly kiss your cheek goodnight under a blue-black sky with ’50s seed-pearl stars. Thick, foggy walls of feedback are not milky white, but black as leather on a dark motorcycle speeding along—on the wrong side of the tracks, of course. Sune and suicide-blonde Sharin coo in lush harmony, lyrics reminding of what it is to fall in love, the buzzy guitars bewitching with 50,000 megawatts of hypnotic drone. (Columbia)


Sassy, messy indie garage equal parts discordant Sonic Youth looseness and clever ’80s English punk bite, The Dishes (three women and a token male drummer) will stage a revolution, right after fixing their horrid hairstyles. Yet somehow, 3 manages to not be annoying. In fact, it comes dangerously close to being brilliant. Several minutes of rote layered feedback at the end of the first track doesn’t deter. True heart cannot be underestimated nor duplicated. (File 13)

YING YANG TWINS Me & My Brother *

Slimy Record Exec to the Ying Yang Twins: “So, uh, my brothers. What is up? Heh heh.” Ying Yang Twins: [Grabbing exec by throat]: “Make us tougher than DMX! Then leave us alone!” Exec [indignantly]: “Well, I’ll certainly do what I can, boys! We have a producing and writing ‘team’; we just have to plug in your voices!” YYT: “Fine. We’re cool. Just remember: tough rap.” But damn, D Roc’s hot. (TVT)

JOHN MAYER Heavier Things *

John Mayer is almost as tantalizing as D Roc, with the pensive, borderline bad-boy good looks of a questioning poet who should not be making safe, mellow pop music in 4/4 time with pinheaded lyrics. Thusly: “Stop trying to figure it out/Deep will only bring you down” and “Been holding out for the home life/My whole life” and “Girls become lovers who turn into mothers/So mothers, be good to your daughters.” (Columbia)


Vertical Horizon should Go punish themselves severely for making music criminally boring. This is the kind of album that makes you want to put your hands over your ears and shriek like a beached manatee. VH’s (however fleeting) success defies all reason. Mainstream radio dreck, a carbon copy of a carbon copy—all the passion safely weeded out. “Send me strength, send me love,” sings Scannell in “Forever.” Shut up, shut up! (RCA)

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Provo’s Brilliant Stereo Mob seem quaint and quirky at first, but the majestic swirl of echo-drenched guitars, droning bass and insistent beats suggests that more serious intentions are afoot. Singer Matt Nelson’s faux-British accent is forgivable, because nothing else would make sense with this veddy English dream-pop, fiercely fragile stuff that threatens to fade away completely before hitting back with a surprise rave-up like “Cowboy Rompin’” (complete with redneck woops and jaw harp). BSM’s nine tracks deliberately build into a wonderful whole before you even realize it. (

REALEYES The External Experience

Even without the deft hip-hop wordplay on top, The External Experience’s slinky-jazzy musical beds alone would make a cool album. RealEyes’ hypno-funky blend of literate rap and in-the-pocket live instrumentation is devoid of weak links, coming off more East Coast—think The Roots and A Tribe Called Quest—than local Salt Coast, and frontman Ebay Jamil Hamilton is one smooth cat. Most impressive, the epic space-jazz vamp “Train of Thought” actually earns all of its 13 (!) minutes, and it’s suh-weet. (


Is Pfattie Lumpkin’s classic bar-boogie rawk for real or just ironic? Hey, no one ever asks Jack Black to explain himself, and PL’s blacklights ‘n’ bongs riffage seems slightly more sincere than Tenacious D’s. From the opening “Flutter” (a “Roadhouse Blues” ringer) to the finale “Free Space” (a desert-rock epic), Raw Dog is about taking Bic-clickin’ metal back from the mullets with a loving kick in the ass. Like the man says, “Suckas think we be messin’ around—yeah, right! Get that rock face straight on!” (


Sure, it’s emo-pop-punk straight out of the Jimmy Eat Blink 41 playbook—hell, it’s practically a coloring book—but Three Percent Hero’s hormonal enthusiasm and tight musical chops make it a little easier to overlook the been-there/done-that/bought-the-hoodie factor. With a few million entertainment-conglomerate bucks and a Code Red sponsorship behind ‘em, thoughtfully layered songs like “Memories” and “Butterflies” would be all over at least four of your 12 radio presets tomorrow. (

Music CD Revue 1CDDE184-2BF4-55D0-F1F3D083A090B115 2007-06-11 16:18:29.0 1 1 28402489-1372-FCBB-8308BACD41058F95 0 2003-09-25 00:00:00.0 0 0
Rebecca Vernon

BUBBA SPARXXX Deliverance * * * *

Primal alligator rap with supa-bass beats courtesy of producer Timbaland never sounded better. Straight outta Georgia, Bubba proves with Deliverance that he’s not a one-album wonder with a gimmick, but an original artist with the balls to mix bluegrass fiddles (“Comin’ Round”) and dirty harmonica (“Jimmy Mathis”) with brutal hip-hop. Bubba’s rich, expressive voice brings life to the clever lyrics and the soulful, almost sad music. He gets more personal than he did in Dark Days, Bright Nights with such songs as “She Tried” and “Nowhere.” Now, we just need more pig wrestling. (Beatclub/Interscope)

DEADBOLT Haight Street Hippie Massacre * * * *

Crippled puppies, bloody roadkill, midgets, murky B-movie swamps and the Mafia—don’t forget the Mafia—set against a background of dark surf: All the requisite Deadbolt elements in one best-of disc. Classics such as “Who the Hell Is Mrs. Valdez?” “Tiki Man,” and “Truck-Driving S.O.B.” cruise alongside previously unreleased goodies “Go Tell Alice,” “Edie” and “I Saw the King.” The Amazon meets the South, voodoo and beer. You can’t go wrong with Deadbolt. (Cargo)

MARY J. BLIGE Love & Life * * * *

Mary J. Blige, with her mature, down-to-earth female personality, strays from the realms of predictable R& with a singing style similar to Lauryn Hill’s freeform vocalizing, and positive lyrical subject matter that actually means something. Love & Life features MTV darlings Jay-Z, P. Diddy, Eve, 50 Cent and Method Man and is permeated with some creative instrumentation, like wood xylophones in “Not Today,” harp and flute in “Don’t Go,” and a full orchestra in “Friends.” (Geffen)

BEN LEE Hey You. Yes You. * * *

Why this album starts with the worst song on it, “Running With Scissors,” is a riddle, but Ben Lee quickly does a save with the mellow, folk-tinged rock of “Aftertaste” and “Dirty Mind.” Ben’s strength lies in his simplicity, which can be more powerful than an album strangling with backup tracks. The violins in “Music 4 the Young and Foolish” and the piano and drum tracks in “No Room to Bleed” are particularly effective. (F2 Music)

* * * *VOLCANIC Anhedonia *

Don’t let those four stars before “Volcanic” fool you—if their music has anything to do with volcanoes, it’s the soda-and-vinegar kind you made in the garage when you were a kid. Boring bar-rock riffs fizzle under flat melodies and a drumbeat that sounds the same in every damned song. I admit I fell asleep halfway through the CD and thought it had started over. But it’s got ripping guitar solos ... (Rut)

Music CD Revue 1CDDE2BC-2BF4-55D0-F1F6A042D4AD73F5 2007-06-11 16:18:29.0 1 1 0 2003-09-18 00:00:00.0 0 0


The Bad Brains proved in a homogenous ’70s punk world that race mattered not when it came to connecting with punk’s philosophies. Huge riffs of metal, rock, fusion, reggae, hip-hop and punk thunder slaughter mercilessly in a technically astonishing hardcore meltdown throughout this much-anticipated Bad Brains greatest-hits collection. Here is the original kernel of hardcore’s rage and energy, captured, remastered, regurgitated and reissued. Inspirational gods to Henry Rollins, Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Beastie Boys, to name a few, the Bad Brains more than deserve their legendary status. (Caroline)

BRMC Take Them On, On Your Own HHH

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s dusky velvet cloak of melodic bass, Jesus & Mary Chain-inspired groan-guitars and disillusioned lyrics grace each pulsing note of Take Them On. Not to lie—the album starts out disappointingly with “Stop” and “Six-Barrel Shotgun,” which sound like copycat tracks from their first album. But things pick up, get gritty and stay up with “We’re All in Love,” the desperate “In Like the Rose” and “Generation.” BRMC has successfully delivered a new revelation. (Virgin)


Blues, jazz-fusion and soul meet ... boogie-disco? Hard to pin down, and that’s the strength of Unclassified. Gospel backups join Randolph in “Nobody,” and “I Need More Love” recalls the Diff’rent Strokes theme song—weird. Although the simplistic lyrics are sometimes annoyingly optimistic, the tight, passionate delivery of the music makes up for it. The guitar work rivals Santana’s—check “Squeeze.” Overall, a safe investment for an evil record company. (Warner Bros.)


There’s nothing about My Morning Jacket that grabs you, but they’re not the equivalent of doggie turds, either. Acoustic, twangy guitar-picking and folksy Nick Drake vocals float like smoke from an Appalachian campfire. The lyrics leave you with a “huh?” kind of feeling—in other words, they suck. But certain elements like the horns in “Dancefloors” add some interest musically, and songs like “Masterplan” and “Run Thru” almost have the power to get under your skin. (RCA)

PENNYWISE From the Ashes H

Epitaph’s Pennywise is all filler with benefits to the seller. They come complete with fill-in-the-blanks rehashed politi-punk lyrics—the only difference? Pennywise sings about Dubya instead of Reagan. The music is as stale as eating oatmeal in a squat for the third day in a row. Political punk bands are important but to deliver a message with no added twist from the way it’s been done for 20-odd years doesn’t exactly grab your attention. (Epitaph)


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METALLICA St. Anger (Elektra) * * * *

As brutal as having your genitals slammed in a Hummer door repeatedly by McBain, St. Anger really is the hyped return of heavy-ass Metallica. It’s not the classic chugga-chugga—but, no symphonies or Bob Seger tunes, either. ’Tallica flirts with industrial noize (good), stoner rock (even better) and rap metal (not so much) in a savagely dirty mix; the forcible upgrade speed-metal needed years ago. The bonus DVD of the band plowing through the entire album live in a rehearsal room ratchets up the intimidation even more.

RADIOHEAD Hail to the Thief (Capitol) * * *

Meanwhile, some back-to-basics promises are as hollow as the heads of FM programmers who still slot “Creep.” Not even Radiohead will ever match the alt-rock double helix of The Bends and OK Computer, but Hail to the Thief addresses the idea instead of wallowing in smell-my-art dolor. Tunes and guitars are present, as are blips and loops—a sleek compromise.

BITCH & ANIMAL Sour Juice ... (Righteous Babe) * * *

If you buy only one album featuring gangsta-rapping lesbians dropping mad skillz about croquet and raping Eminem, make it Bitch & Animal’s Sour Juice & Rhyme. The duo’s eclecti-folk-funk is as unclassifiable as label boss Ani DiFranco’s but their feminist tongues are much firmer in Frank Zappa’s cheek, and their pussy-empowerment rants go down all the easier for it.

POWERMAN 5000 Transform (DreamWorks) * *

Wha’ happened? Back in ’99, the comically propulsive “When Worlds Collide” put Powerman 5000 on the rock-star brink. Then, nothing. Now, frontman Spider is back with half the band and less sci-fi humor, bitching about corporate greed and consumerism (he’s still a part of both) over 12 cynically flat anthems equal parts Marilyn Manson and ... hell, Billy Idol?

JUSTIN GUARINI Justin Guarini (RCA) *

Justin Guarini went down like a bitch against the far superior pipes of Kelly Clarkson in American Idol. He sucked; he LOST. He’s rewarded with a co-starring gig in a movie with Clarkson and his own solo deal on the same label as the real talent who kicked his weak ass in the first place. Lesson: Idol is the Special Olympics of pop “competition.” Everybody wins! Yay! Music CD Revue 1CDDE3A6-2BF4-55D0-F1FFC29149863573 2007-06-11 16:18:30.0 1 1 28402489-1372-FCBB-8308BACD41058F95 0 2003-06-12 00:00:00.0 2 0

MARILYN MANSON The Golden Age ... (Interscope) * * *

As funny as the Onion gag about Marilyn Manson “now going door-to-door to shock people” is, the lyrics on The Golden Age of Grotesque are funnier—a glam-industrial swing-dance number like “Doll Dagga Buzz Buzz Ziggety Zag” isn’t the work of a numbskull Antichrist. Songs like that, “The New Shit” and “(S)aint” are cocksure catchy winks, black-shellac bids for your continued rock star love. He’s still good for it.

HIGH STRUNG These Are Good Times (TeePee) * * * *

The High Strung sound exactly that, like they can’t get the pop gems out fast enough before the next punch lands. Sparkling-sweet Beatle-isms mixed with hometown Brooklyn grit and sarcasm (“The World’s Smallest Violin,” ’nuff said) bounce off tightly-wound guitars and the uncontrived air of “Hey, it’s 1968” that worked just as well for Sloan once upon a time.

JACK JOHNSON On and On (Moonshine Conspiracy) * * *

So bright it should come with sunscreen, singer-guitarist Jack Johnson’s second album takes the cubicle-friendly blues of Ben Harper on a tropical trip for even the most entrenched anti-Parrothead capitalist. Over 16 soothing tracks, there’s little Johnson doesn’t suggest renouncing in the name of chillin,’ but never he sinks into a shallow Dave Matthews puddle.

CLUTCH Live at the Googolplex (Megaforce) * * *

Keep yer newfound Led Zeppelin archives—Live at the Googolplex is the concert album. OK, slight overstatement, but Clutch thrives in sweat-stained documentation better than like-minded sci-fi thud-metal merchants (ahem, Monster Magnet) ever could, the raw feed super-enhancing the comic fuzz. Of course, a harmful shitload of system volume and bass helps ...

DIE TRYING Die Trying (Island) *

Christ, how many of these bands are there? Calculated amalgams of pop-punk, emo, metal and bed-head gel, pouting and bashing like there’s no tomorrow because the mall’s closed? Sacramento’s Die Trying at least have one of those hot-chick CD covers that’ll look nice in the $1.50 closeout bin by this time next year. Who can ask for more at this point?

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BEN SUCHY Grapefruit Wine ( * * * *

Serving up 12 cuts recorded with voice, guitar, harmonica and stark just-us-in-the-room intimacy, Salt Lake singer-songwriter Ben Suchy is either a confident craftsman or simply a man on a budget. Could be both, but Grapefruit Wine is perfect as it is, Suchy pouring enough chops, soul and personality into each unfolding blues-folk revelation to make splashy production irrelevant. There’s not a bum second here—if you’re hip to unfiltered talent and/or just good tunes, get this now.

THE WOLFS 3 & 4 ( * * *

A “box set” slightly bigger than a pack of smokes—yeah, more mini-discs. Taken as a 10-track whole, 3 & 4 is a mixed bag for garage-rawkers (only “O Cigarette” stays the course of 1 & 2), as The Wolfs get their studio freak on with some subsonic technical ecstasy and even a goth-disco remix. The fuzzy focus dilutes the band’s unique punch, but the fun remains the same.

KATE MACLEOD & KAT EGGLESTON Drawn From the Well ( * *.5

Funny that a tale of 1800s capital punishment in the Dakota Territory would be the catchiest song on any album, but “Tom Egan” is Drawn From the Well’s (a mix of folk originals and traditionals) centerpiece hook. The voices and strings of SLC’s MacLeod and Chicago’s Eggleston intertwine pleasantly, but only “Egan” and the trad “Two Sisters” really seem to stick.


“Postmodern” is as slippery to define as the “revolution” Mayor Rocky brought to Salt Lake—saxophonist Herschel Bullen’s Postmodern Jazz Quartet plays it straight up and in on “Rocky’s Revolution” and six other smooth selections here. Vet Bullen is matched note-for-note by guitarist Kenji Aihara’s fluid flourishes, most notably on the epic, atmospheric “67.”

GREG SIMPSON Unspoken ( * * *

His near DNA-cloning of REO Speedwagon for Unspoken’s leadoff “Rhythm of Life,” as well as other appropriations, can be forgiven: Greg Simpson knows his way around a guitar—several, actually. His tunesmith ears and virtuoso fingers make him the rare LDS rocker who can actually rock; his cool array of tonal textures from sweet axes dig his roots in even deeper.

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LIZ PHAIR Liz Phair (Capitol) * * *

By now, even those oblivious to the hipster music press have probably heard that indie-rock’s Milf No. 1, Liz Phair, has defected to glossy Avril pop with a corresponding Maxim-hoochie image makeover. No complaints about the sexy photo spreads, and Liz is still very much Liz, geeks. The lyrics are as pornoriffic as ever (“Gimme your hot white cum”), and the slicked-up instrumentation ain’t Britney—more like Madonna if she actually knew how to play guitar.

MICHELLE BRANCH Hotel Paper (Maverick) * * *

A teen novelty two years ago for actually writing her own songs and playing her own instruments, Michelle Branch now has to outdo her own mini girl-revolution. Subsequently, Hotel Paper rocks harder than her Spirit Room debut, but the pop is still brighter than White Strips even when Branch is shooting for dark. What, no song about kicking Vanessa Carlton’s ass?

ALLISON MOORER Show (Universal) * * * *

Finally, a combo CD/DVD that works on both levels: Live albums are hopelessly out of vogue, but Allison Moorer’s Show (a single Nashville club concert recorded in January) is too gorgeously gritty for convention. The new spark rushing through over a dozen alt-country never-hits and Moorer’s ballsy, unaffected voice even overcome a Kid Rock (!) cameo.

HEART Alive in Seattle (Legacy) * *

With two Led Zeppelin covers (“Battle of Evermore,” “Black Dog”) taking up space that could have been filled with underplayed material of their own (“Kick It Out,” c’mon!), why exactly is there a new Heart live record? The studio-ringer band plays to karaoke perfection behind Ann and Nancy Wilson, but the whole affair smells like a way-too-early Christmas cash-in.

LILLIX Falling Uphill (Maverick) * *

And now we’re back to name-checking Avril Lavigne—times four. Lillix may be armed with all the gotta-have producers and enough superficial ’tude to impress the Lizzie McGuire set, but fluff be fluff. Every cut seems like a theme-song pitch for The WB—but then, oddly enough, “What I Like About You” (from the same-named WB show) is the loosest rocker here.

Music CD Revue 1CDDE59A-2BF4-55D0-F1F96015D29470A6 2007-06-11 16:18:30.0 1 1 28402489-1372-FCBB-8308BACD41058F95 0 2003-07-03 00:00:00.0 4 0

BLACK EYED PEAS Elephunk (A& ) * * * *

Never mind that Black Eyed Peas have crafted their third consecutive all-killer/no-filler unclassifiable hip-hop set: Including guest-shots from Justin Timberlake and Papa Roach on the same CD as a party groove called “Let’s Get Retarded” is genius in itself. New female vocalist Fergie makes her mark on the pumping “Shut Up” and the dub-tinged “Fly Away,” but it’s BEP’s old-school-is-new-school sonic wizardry that makes it all percolate.

MAN Machine (Times Beach) * * * *

Think you’re pissed off? Detroit’s Man (aka Matt McGuire) spews more articulate bile before beer No. 9 than you could all week. With just voice, kick drum, bass guitar and enough buzzsaw distortion to clear-cut a rainforest, Man declares Spartan-punk hatred (with sharp humor and sharper hooks) for hippies, suits and, well, everything. Except beer—Man loves only his beer.

BEYONCE Dangerously In Love (Columbia) * * *

The horned-up leadoff thumper “Crazy In Love” is more than worthy of Beyonce Knowles’ ample pipes and ampler booty, but why all the slow jams? And why not include her supa-stanky “Work It Out” from Goldmember? Dangerously’s perfect dead-sexy R& /hip-hop fourtet of opening cuts fades quickly into Destiny’s Child pillow talk and never snaps back. But that booty, damn ...

COOLER KIDS Punk Debutante (DreamWorks) * *

As disco-funk singles go, no one’s going to top Junior Senior’s “Move Your Feet” this summer—least of all two “kid” fashionbots bent on becoming Deee-Lite, only less “thinky.” The plastic synth-bounce of Punk Debutante has a certain cotton-candy appeal, but “E Is For Everybody” would be more convincing as an alphabet song if ADD diva Sisely didn’t quit at “Q.”

DAVID LEE ROTH Diamond Dave (Magna Carta) *

Sadder than classic-rock karaoke night and double the cover charge, David Lee Roth’s latest hallucination poses the question, “Will three consecutive Savoy Brown songs collapse the space-time continuum?” No, but his craptacular takes on Hendrix, the Doors and the Beatles (and the worst DLR originals ev-er) are nearly painful enough to evoke Sammy sympathy. Nearly.

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MACY GRAY The Trouble With Being Myself (Epic) * * * *

As occasionally tough as it is to take her starchild supafreak voice and persona seriously, Macy Gray never fails to bring Her Funk, a deceptively laidback, slinky blend of ’70s soul, hip-hop and everything sexy in-between. The Trouble bests her maligned circus The Id and equals her debut by staying (relatively) focused from the Jackson 5-infused “When I See You” opener on through to the “Every Now and Then” spazz-jazz end. Macy can do no wrong: Learn it, know it, live it.

MARS VOLTA Deloused In the Comatorium (GSL) * * * *

Forget about rendering Sparta (the other broken-off half of emo-quitters At the Drive-In) irrelevant—the Mars Volta make everyone pale in the supernova glow. Deloused is Led Zep and Rush refracted through a cosmic crackpipe at the edge of the universe, a loony spiral of prog-metal terrorism and beauty too excessively arty to fail. But then, who’d know if it did? Genius.

THE USED Maybe Memories (Reprise) * * *

Utah County’s favorite screamo sons are so hot, the record company has to satisfy demand with a leftovers/live CD/DVD combo—good for them, not so bad for you. Previously unheard are “Just a Little” (a Japan-only track from The Used) and old Orem demos that prove they had “it” before TimeWarner involvement. And dig that Bert Bestor piano concerto, girls.

MYA Moodring (Interscope) * *

A full two years too late to cash in on all that Moulin Rouge/”Lady Marmalade” hype (she was Hoochie No. 4, the one you couldn’t place), Mya drops her third solo album of off-the-rack R& grooves and Brazilian-waxed balladry—and whatever “My Love Is Like ... Wo” is. Bad sign: The gutsiest tune here is a Coke jingle (“Real Compared to What”). What?

TWISTED METHOD Escape From Cape Coma (MCA) *

Cape Coma is the crap-aggro band’s clever nickname for Cape Coral, Fla., the hometown where they “starved” (i.e. no Super-Sizing) and “suffered” (i.e. no PlayStation) and all the other standard bio bullshit before they “made it” (i.e. signed to a label that’ll be rid of ’em SAP). Twisted Method aren’t the final blockheads in the nü-metal Jenga tower, but they oughta be.

Music CD Revue 1CDDE9F0-2BF4-55D0-F1F7CD325587D3B8 2007-06-11 16:18:31.0 1 1 28402489-1372-FCBB-8308BACD41058F95 0 2003-07-17 00:00:00.0 2 0
Rebecca Vernon

VARIOUS ARTISTS Soul Tribute to the Beatles ****

Of course this album is going to get four stars, and not necessarily ’cause it has anything to do with the Beatles. These soul artists kick the Beatles’ skinny white arses. Imagine Ike and Tina Turner sizzling on “Come Together,” Aretha Franklin covering “Let It Be,” Otis Redding doing “Day Tripper,” Al Green singing “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” and the best: Natalie Cole (above) covering “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” Baby! The Beatles always had a soft spot for R& and soul, and these original tracks, recorded in the late ’60s and ’70s, show how soul artists repaid them in kind. (Vanguard)

NEAL POLLACK INVASION Never Mind the Pollacks **

After Neal’s avant-garde book tours mixing readings, music and performance art, creating a soundtrack to sell his next book, Never Mind the Pollacks, was the inevitable next step. Not that Neal would be ashamed of admitting it. Never Mind the Pollacks got two instead of three stars, because although Neal’s blasé vocals are gold, the music (a parody of garage-rock pretentiousness) is barely passable. The best track is “I Wipe My Ass on Your Novel,” in which Neal sings, “Thank you, Joyce Carol, for a year’s worth of three-ply.” (Telegraph Co.)

THE STARTING LINE Say It Like You Mean It *

Message to the Starting Line: Whiney emo/indie-rock is a tortured three-legged collie that needs to be shot. Drive-Thru Records has offered up a fatty hamburger o’ tunes with no redeeming nutritious value, chock-full of empty calories and artificial flavoring. The lyrics are surprisingly well written, but cover the same expected topics: love lost, love gained, the wimpy, spineless crying sessions that follow (yawn). Breakthroughs in an annoying genre are good, but the Starting Line do nothing to differentiate themselves from the kajillion other weepy emo bands out there. (Drive-Thru)

ZANE The Big Zane Theory *

Zane, you’ve followed the Formula to Make a Rap Star to a T. A song about the bling-bling (“Damn”). A “we were together and happy but then I was an ass and I’m sorry” track (“Tonite, I’m Yours”). And the stock tearjerker about that (minister/parent/gym teacher, circle one) from your past that influenced you to stop (insert shocking criminal activity here, add “-ing”) (“IOU”). Layer all this over with flat drumbeats, flat production, trite female backups and clichéd song titles like “Bounce,” and voilà! But don’t you think having your CD booklet fold out into a mini-poster of your hot, hot self is taking things a little too far? (Priority) Music CD Revue 1CDDEB18-2BF4-55D0-F1F9494A4C8706DD 2007-06-11 16:18:32.0 1 1 0 2003-08-21 00:00:00.0 0 0
Rebecca Vernon

PRIMUS Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People ****

Topic: Why the name of Primus’ latest offering is neither pro-PETA nor anti-PETA. Discuss. “Less weirdness, more art,” you can imagine Les saying before writing stuff for Animals. The album starts out that way with “The Carpenter and the Dainty Bride,” but then, like a big magic rubber band, the weirdness that permeates Les’ soul pulls him back with a helpless snap in “Pilcher’s Squad.” Yet another stab at being artsy succeeds with “Mary the Ice Cube,” but Les finally just gives into the weirdness for the remaining tracks. (Interscope)

ALIEN ANT FARM Truant ****

Alien Ant Farm eludes classification and stands out in an over-saturated pop-punk playground. The songwriting is solid—it’s catchy, yeah, but in the real way. “These Days” reminds of locals New Transit Direction, and hey, “Sarah Wynn” does too. Slightly discordant power hooks combine with meaty drumming, jazz trumpet (“Never Meant”), Latin elements (“Tia Lupé”) and delicious chord changes to create a refreshing detour from the usual. (DreamWorks)

RANCID Indestructible ***

It’s easy to tell what bands started a movement and which ones are doomed only to repeat the echo of it. Rancid’s original heat and virulence come through in Indestructible (19-song grand total—telling): punk done right, their brand liberally spiced with reggae and ska elements. But the more pertinent question is, what deal exactly did Rancid sign with Warner Bros., and why isn’t WB mentioned on the album anywhere, eh? (Hellcat)

EVAN DANDO Baby I’m Bored ***

Mommy, what happens to washed-up remnants of the grunge movement? Well, honey, usually they sell out (Smashing Pumpkins), go way underground (Pearl Jam) or become a class-A, yoga-obsessed bitch (Lady Love). Evan is gladly above gimmicks with his comeback, bringing back the luscious, mellow meanderings of the Lemonheads with acoustic guitar, beautiful lyrics and willowy melodies. Some parts drag, but Baby I’m Bored is far from being a done-that disappointment. (Bar None)

DRESSY BESSY Dressy Bessy *

Poppy, feel-good indie rock is not dead ... but much of it should be. For one, chords other than “G,” “C” and “E” are a good thing. For two, using a cutesy ’60s type-font is sooo, like, overdone. For three, no band should ever name a song “Girl, You Shout!” That’s just icky. Neat packaging with photos of Dressy Bessy in an übercool, kitschy thrift-store wardrobe might sell albums but can’t change the tortuously boring music inside. (Kindercore)

Music CD Revue 1CDDEC41-2BF4-55D0-F1F11EB66D2FFF2C 2007-06-11 16:18:32.0 1 1 0 2003-08-28 00:00:00.0 0 0
Rebecca Vernon

DANDY WARHOLS Welcome to the Monkey House ****

Despite ripping off a Vonnegut title in pretentious indie style, the Dandy Warhols’ latest is surprisingly great. They’ve supplanted endless psychedelic jams with smart art-pop. Live, the DWs are boring as hell, but on record their true talent shines. Everything sounds ’80s, as with “I Am Over it”—drum machine beats and synths reign supreme. One of the best tracks is “Wonderful You,” which mixes Blur beats with electronic samples and breathy vocals to make a very gray love song. Other keepers include the quirky “Scientist” and the transcendent “The Last High.” (Capitol)


Peter freakin’ Frampton. Sorry to be blasphemous, but the first track, “Verge of a Thing,” sounds like an overproduced chunk o’ cheese. But then “Love Stands Alone” and “Hour of Need” shimmer with dark beauty. “I’m Back” wavers between being a true rockin’ anthem and another piece of Roquefort, but “I Need Ground” might just change your world. How can a musician who creates masterpieces create so many songs dripping dairy? Frampton, go vegan. (Nuages)

PLACEBO Sleeping With Ghosts **

Placebo is one of those bands who are “supposed” to be amazing, but they “actually” sound like a watered-down version of Duran Duran. But hey, there is a guy humping a ghost on the front cover! Boring chord-work and electronic texturing saturate flat pop throughout the album, accompanied by strained lyrics of modern disillusionment which might just make you snicker: “Damn the government/Damn their killing/Damn their lies.” The brilliance is overwhelming. (Virgin)

ARTHURKILL Addiction *

Repeat: An alluring CD cover—in this case, of a hot, hot girl with smoky eye makeup—can’t redeem an album of zero musical value. Mainstreamed pseudo-industrial rock has been done before, and far better. ArthurKill’s cover of Depeche Mode’s “It’s No Good” is passable, but only because it was written by someone else. The lyrics are the worst aspect, as in “Honestly”: “Calling out, I heard your name/Do you feel the same?” Gag. (Attack)

REVOLUTION SMILE Above the Noise *

Revolution Smile would be tolerable if they’d just change their name, their concept, and their music. OK, pretty much the only good thing about them is their lyrics. The Revolution Smile seem locked in an identity battle, unable to decide if they’re hard rock or emo. Believe it, there’s no compromise possible here. No reel-’em-in riffs, just forgettable melodies. Nothing rich or striking, just straight-ahead rock ... or, um, emo. (Flawless)

Music CD Revue 1CDDED5A-2BF4-55D0-F1FA90F5E8770FE4 2007-06-11 16:18:32.0 1 1 0 2003-09-04 00:00:00.0 0 0

JANE’S ADDICTION Strays (Capitol) * * * *

Finally: After the solo albums, side projects and inexplicable attempts at DJing, it’s Jane’s Addiction 2003! Not that Strays, the band’s first new stuff since 1990’s still-amazing Ritual de lo Habitual, tops the past—it’s just that much better than anything present. Dave Navarro’s volcanic guitar and Stephen Perkins’ impossible drumming now fall closer to craft than chaos, and even Perry Ferrell sounds (!) matured. Maybe it’s time to revive those American Led Zeppelin debates ...

SUPAGROUP Supagroup (Foodchain) * * *

Like Nashville Pussy or the Supersuckers without the loose AC/DC-worship restraints, or maybe the Donnas with dicks, New Orleans’ Supagroup kick out the rawk for love more than laughs. From “Rock & Roll Tried to Ruin My Life” on down, it’s a power-chord kegger for Bon and Angus that teeters between props and copyright infringement. Either way, woo-hoo!

THE LOCUST Plague Soundscapes (Anti) * * *

Plague Soundscapes will clear your office in 30 seconds and alter your DNA in 45—wanna try all 21 minutes? Not so much playing songs as inflicting intricate seizures of grinding jazzcore metal, spazzy keys and unintelligible screams titled “Car-Wax Halo Manufactured for the Champion in All of Us” and weirder, The Locust are perfect for the ADD Satanist.

CHEAP TRICK Special One ( * *.5

Cheap Trick remain one of this country’s greatest rock & roll resources, even if every album ain’t quite a classic. Special One isn’t up to the snuff of the Holy Trick Trinity of initial ‘70s LPs or 1997’s underrated Cheap Trick; more of a half-speed stroll through the better calls of the ‘80s. But when the lid finally blows off in the darkening homestretch, not bad.

KISS Symphony Alive IV (Sanctuary) *

Then again, some childhood favorites test the limits of even the most forgiving sphincters. Kiss have been consensually sodomizing their Army for years with concert retreads, but this orchestrated earache is where the madness ends. Really, how many versions of “Love Gun” do you need, much less with a symphony? Gene and Paul: They’re fucking clown shoes.

Music CD Revue 1CDDEE64-2BF4-55D0-F1F48DD0EC9FFD91 2007-06-11 16:18:32.0 1 1 28402489-1372-FCBB-8308BACD41058F95 0 2003-07-24 00:00:00.0 2 0

ANTIX Shattered Life ( * * *

Relax, it ain’t the WWE; it’s just Antix. Salt Lake’s hardest-spending metal trio are back for another spin with Shattered Life, 11 grinding tracks of old-school power rawk that run the gamut from ... OK, there’s no gamut—the needle just stays pegged in the red. There are some sharp hooks poking through the slickly produced metal sludge (think circa ’90 Prong), but guitarist Dave Ewart’s cartoon growl and dated doom-shit lyrics lag way behind Antix’s undeniable musicianship.

SONS OF NOTHING 1 Left Turn ( * * *

Pink Floyd covers pay the bills, but Sons of Nothing’s second original album kicks off on terra firma with “Do Me,” the unlikely bar-rock bastard of J. Geils and Rush (!), before kaleidoscoping into Blue Oyster Cult at their most prog-demented, then going out California-strummy. There’s a lot of classic-rock ground covered in just five tunes, but little Pink.

AGENTS The Long Road ( * * * *

Less manic but more organic than fellow Utah County hip-hop crew the Numbs, the Agents (Facts, Illumino and Everest) keep the beats deceptively lean and subliminally funky over Long Road’s 15 positive-tip tracks. Highlights like “Pray For Days,” “Live With Us” and “Rock the Heights” throb with grooves recalling obvious heroes Souls of Mischief and beyond.

PAUL JACOBSEN You Might ... ( * * * *

A little Grant Lee Phillips, a little Elliott Smith, a little Ryan Adams, BYU grad Paul Jacobsen’s You Might Regret You Ever Cared is nowhere as cynical as the title suggests; better than the alma mater might. The voice is for the girls, but the dead-on songcrafting and alt-country/chamber-pop sheen are for critics’ lists. Just keep the Y thing on the down-low.


Alexa’s 13. Natalee’s 11. They’ve written No. 1 hits for Brazilian pop stars. They’re from Farmington. They’re disgustingly cute. Critiquing their debut would be like punting a kitten. Saying their over-glossed “Kiss Across the Ocean” sounds like Michelle Branch in a Kmart training bra stuffed with cotton candy is verboten. And that’s a wrap, people ...

Music CD Revue 1CDDEFDB-2BF4-55D0-F1FE6CED285918BF 2007-06-11 16:18:33.0 1 1 28402489-1372-FCBB-8308BACD41058F95 0 2003-07-31 00:00:00.0 4 0

ME FIRST & THE GIMME GIMMES Take a Break * * * *

A one-joke band, but it’s a great joke. Me First & the Gimme Gimmes specialize in punked-up covers of classic (and not-so-classic) songs, this time around tackling Prince, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, etc. The twist: Instead of simply bashing through with snotty abandon, MF& G respect the melodies and toss in crazy-clever tributes-within-tributes (Adam Ant, Cars, Sex Pistols). And to hear a dude sing “You make me feel like a Natural Woman”? Priceless. (Fat Wreck Chords)

DANE COOK Harmful If Swallowed * * *

There’s buzz that Dane Cook is a comic genius—no doubt started by Dane Cook. When the stand-up is on, he’s deadly funny (disfiguring accidents, bad jobs, Satanic toys); when he’s off, it’s open-mic night (yep, dick jokes). Still, Cook’s perfect Gen-X references, skilled wordplay and manic energy make him the comedian to beat. Suck it, Dat Phan. (Comedy Central)

WEEN Quebec * * *

Everybody’s eventually going to end up on Sanctuary Records; keep checking your mailbox. Ween’s first new album in three years (and debut for the label) kicks off Motorhead-stylee with “It’s Gonna Be a Long Night,” then de-evolves into typically/wonderfully scattershot prog-bliss. Tweakers beware “The Fucked Jam”; stoners embrace “The Argus.” (Sanctuary)

DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL A Mark, a Mission ... * *

Not a comedy act per se, but still a reliable source for unintentional yuks. Acoustic emo-wuss Chris Carrabba trots out some electrics on A Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar, which is about as convincing as, well, dressing up an acoustic emo-wuss in tattoos and “thrift-shop” T-shirts. The tunes are mostly solid, but so were the Backstreet Boys’ once. (Vagrant)

SMASH MOUTH Get the Picture? *

As calorically empty as a “local” music mag 95-percent loaded with national wire copy, novelty mooks Smash Mouth are still filling for at least a bar or two—however long it takes to get to the part where the announcer name-checks Mervyn’s, Doritos, Drano or whomever the song’s been sold to this week. This has to be the end of the line, though ... right? Please? (Interscope)

Music CD Revue 1CDDF123-2BF4-55D0-F1FC263B73A10D67 2007-06-11 16:18:33.0 1 1 28402489-1372-FCBB-8308BACD41058F95 0 2003-08-14 00:00:00.0 0 0

SARAI The Original (Epic) * * * *

The blonde hair and blues eyes have gotten her tagged as the female Eminem, but it’s not all about looks: Like Shady, 20-year-old Atlanta rapper Sarai has the mic skills and musicality to back up the hype. Sure, her husky-lazy drawl and rapid-fire flow recall Missy Elliott, and the dumb-fun radio dance tracks (“Pack Ya Bags,” “Ladies”) aren’t anything new, but deeper cuts like “It’s Not a Fairytale” and “Mary Anne” stare down teen pregnancy and child abuse with chilling resolve. All told, The Original may be a hotter debut than Em’s.

MINIBAR Fly Below the Radar (Foodchain) * * * *

The heads of pop geeks are bound to explode over a capsule like “Pete Yorn fronting the Jayhawks,” so lay down a tarp. Minibar are American-roots-steeped Brits who migrated to Hollywood, released a dud big-label album, then returned wiser with this far-more-realized indie disc of SoCal harmonies, English pop hooks and alt-country atmospherics. Ka-blooey!

AD FRANK In Girl Trouble ( * * *

On his third and dandiest solo outing, Boston singer-songwriter Ad Frank is un-ironically bent on pre-MTV new-wave pop and hopeless guitar romanticism. The music doesn’t always keep pace with the extra-clever lyrics, but when everything comes together as on “Girls as Sharp as You Are Something Rare,” Frank is the king of the world—even without his dream queen.

ATB Addicted to Music (Radikal) * *

ATB (German DJ Andre Tenneberger) was gracious enough to include a 40-minute “live” video on his latest disc of passable trance. Oh, the desktop thrill of watching The Genius adjusting his headphones and twiddling knobs like he’s landing 747s between spasms of bad air-guitar and lurching around with his thumb up his ass as the records spin. Addicted to what, again?

JS Ice Cream (DreamWorks) *

Johnson sisters Kim and Kandy have vocally backed the likes of Christina Aguilera and the Isley Brothers for years—all was fine, but then someone said, “Let’s put the hoochies out front!” Before you know it, R. Kelly’s all up in this and there’s another worthless CD of generic sex-ya trills and grooves in the R& racks. At least Kelly didn’t piss it all away on teens this time.

Music CD Revue 1CDDF24C-2BF4-55D0-F1F7125DA9912F90 2007-06-11 16:18:33.0 1 1 28402489-1372-FCBB-8308BACD41058F95 0 2003-08-07 00:00:00.0 0 0
Rebecca Vernon

SING-SING The Joy of Sing-Sing (Manifesto) ****

Note to space-age pioneers: All killer, no filler. All natural, no NutraSweet. Soaring, lush, crystal-clear vocals of liquid honey are encased in a strange little jewelry box with the futuristic, modern trip-hop of Morcheeba and the dark, sensual tinkerings of Portishead. Silky, urban dance-club-ready basslines and spacious drums slink in “I’ll Be;” avant garde backbeats and ’60s psychedelia meet modern sensibilities in “Émigré;” and weird synths reminiscent of Bowie’s “Space Oddity” make the ultra-intense “Panda Eyes.” But throaty French horns in “Me and My Friend” combine with stark lyrics and grinding choral guitars to make it the gem of the collection.

SPEEDEALER Second Sight (Palm) ***

If Turbonegro, Metallica’s Lars Ulrich and Queens of the Stone Age had a picnic of ribs ‘n’ beer with huge sides of testosterone-saturated bloodcakes, you’d come close to approximating Speedealer’s vital essence. Although some lyrics come off as clichés—“Goddammit, leave me alone!” (uh … “Leave Me Alone”)—some come off as truly magnificent, the epicness Speedealer’s after. Ultra-turbo guitars slash ‘n’ burn across the countryside while big, snarling vocals belch fire and venom and neatly slit the dragon’s throat. “Fractured” wins with monster, crushing riffs churning in a blender alongside gut-ripping guitar solos.

JETS TO BRAZIL Perfecting Loneliness (Jade Tree) **

Indie blasphemy No. 213: There’s nothing so very special about Jets to Brazil. For SLAP Magazine to infer that Blake Schwarzenbach is somehow an important/the singer/songwriter of his generation is llama vomit. However, the epic chord changes and meaty guitar bridge riffs in “The Frequency” are quite beautiful, and if the entire album was more like the Beatles-esque “William Tell Override,” more stars would be smiling down upon Jets. “Disgrace” graces Loneliness with down ‘n’ dirty, R.E.M.-like rock (oxymoron?) but overall, Jets buys too effortlessly into the whole emo/indie template, with nothing too earthshaking to say.

LOUDERMILK The Red Record (DreamWorks) **

Loudermilk almost pulled off their wedding of ’80s butt-rock elements of high, whiny Axl vocals, mean guitar riffs and prominent cymbal-bell hits (even if unintentional) with—believe it—artsy mod à la smooth suits and weird lyrics. Artbutt, maybe? The large, open “Anthema” stands out with its visceral driving, and “California” boasts great lyrics: “The sun wakes me on devil’s morning, his arms stretched over the town to make a red sky, month of July.” But they fall short of genius with a sludgy, ill-defined sound that strikes no vital chord.

STACIA Hush (Raystone) *

Note to Stacia: A lotta money, an “L.A. blonde-and-green-eyed look,” a former career modeling for Vogue and a husband who was a former ice-hockey star doth not a musician make. Hush is a compilation of shallow observations made by one of a breed of shallow people. The first overly simplistic, bland, boring song stretches into 10 that all sound … exactly the same. Violins and overtones of exotica with Indian-sounding instrument in “Was Me”—undoubtedly thrown in by a doting producer trying to beef up Stacia’s poor musicianship—cannot save this album from record hell. Music CD Revue 1CDDF307-2BF4-55D0-F1F246F9A7AD1603 2007-06-11 16:18:34.0 1 1 0 2002-10-17 00:00:00.0 0 0

JUCIFER I Name You Destroyer (Velocette) * * * *

Since it’s against 2002 law to let an issue go by without mentioning The White Stripes (look it up) … What if Jack and Meg were totally evil, preferring Marshall stacks over tinny Sears amps and black ‘n’ silver over red ‘n’ white? Wife-hubby duo Amber Valentine (guitar, vocals) and Edgar Livengood (drums) swing between deranged death metal and dreamy indie-pop in a cunningly crafted wash of songs that actually manages to outdo their previous Calling All Cars On the Vegas Strip, a molten mofo in its own right. Behind Valentine’s rape-the-earth riffs and bipolar soft/scream sensuality, there’s never a hint that Jucifer aren’t in control of the chaos. OK, maybe just a little …

JURASSIC 5 Power in Numbers (Interscope) * * * *

Now that the world is finally on the brink of recognizing who the hottest hip-hop band in the land really is (the hype be on), will the Fivers who were there for Quality Control and before dig it? Thankfully, Power in Numbers leaves absolutely no room for “Yeah, but you should have heard ‘em in the day” backsliding, delivering ingenious stone-funk beats and a charismatic lyrical flow-minus-the-hos far beyond the grasp of gangstas and P. Diddy pretenders. When a crew can make even Nelly Furtado (vox on “Thin Line”) sound down, they are officially The Shit.

IMPERIAL TEEN On (Merge) * * *

While the world awaits the Billy Gould solo album, the latest post-Faith No More outing from The Other Goofy White Dude Who Isn’t Mike Patton is here—it’s Imperial Teen, kids! Roddy Bottum’s coed power-peppy band had zero in common with FNM on two previous platters, and On is another shiny nail in that dayglo “it’s just a side project” coffin. Deliriously spunky new-wave nuggets like “Ivanka” and “Baby” (give it up for handclaps!) set up what seems like the same old sugar, but the remaining tracks reveal—gulp!—songwriting maturity.

PETER GABRIEL Up (Real World) * *

Isn’t Up the same title as Shania Twain’s latest soon-to-be-released crapfest? And an old R.E.M. album? What it lacks in an original moniker, Peter Gabriel’s first new disc in 10 years makes up for in … sounding exactly like every other Peter Gabriel disc. What some call “artistic integrity,” others might call “obliviously wedged in the ‘80s more snugly than Anna Nicole’s thong.” Gabriel’s earnest world-beat wanking is as dated as a VH1 Classic—until he takes on daytime “trash TV” five years too late on “The Barry Williams Show.” Next album: O.J.

AMERICAN IDOL Greatest Moments (RCA) *

The real greatest moment was co-host Brian Dunkleman’s high-profile invitation to stay the hell out of the American Idol sequel (his side: “I have decided not to return for season two in order to pursue other opportunities in TV and feature films”—sure, dickhead). On CD, these passable karaoke performances from Kelly Clarkson, Justin Guarini and the rest of the already-forgotten finalists don’t add up to “great,” more like “great for a Ford commercial.” Redeeming cut: Ryan Starr’s sultry take on Stevie Wonder’s “If You Really Love Me” … She shoulda won, man …

Music CD Revue 1CDDF430-2BF4-55D0-F1FE8E21FDD93396 2007-06-11 16:18:34.0 1 1 28402489-1372-FCBB-8308BACD41058F95 0 2002-10-10 00:00:00.0 0 0

SOUNDTRACK Gilmore Girls (Rhino) * * * *

Stars Hollow must have the coolest record store in Connecticut-why does it never figure into a Gilmore Girls plot? Could we possibly tear ourselves away from Luke’s Diner? Sheesh. Fans know music figures heavily into the TV show, but can they identify the obscurities? Bjork’s “Human Behavior” is the lone hit nestled in 24 tracks, which includes Elastica, The Shins, PJ Harvey, Big Star, John Lennon, Yoko Ono (separately and together), Ash, Yo La Tengo, Black Box Recorder, Slumber Party, Komeda and more. It’s less a soundtrack than a classic ‘90s college-radio sampler—or Lane’s floorboard stash (you’ve gotta know the show).

SCOTS Live at El Sol (Kudzu) * * * *

While they’ve recorded their share of hot studio albums, Southern Culture On the Skids are a LIVE band—one of the best you’ll ever experience, regardless if you’re familiar with the albums or not. Even though it was recorded five years ago in Spain, Live at El Sol is essentially the same sweaty, scorching SCOTS you get any ol’ rump-shakin’ night on the American road (like, say, Liquid Joe’s on Oct. 7). Rick Miller’s hick-slick vocals and impossible guitar licks; Mary Huff’s bouncy bass and sweet backups … if this ain’t heaven, who needs it?

LADYTRON Light & Magic (EN) * * *

With simple electro-pop beats and monotone sexbot vocals, Ladytron’s second album (the first was the “highly influential” 604—never heard of it?) initially comes off as another icy platter of Kraftwerk/Berlin teases and blips. Then comes a lyric like “They only want you when you’re 17/When you’re 21, you’re no fun” (“Seventeen”) and the Lush-like Britpop glory of “Blue Jeans,” and most of the prefab Felix Da Housecat pretense melts away. Still, throbbing disco-chillers like “Cease2xist” are as irresistible as a quickie game of Asteroids.

BECK Sea Change (Geffen) * *

Beck’s back in Acoustic Troubadour Mode … great. As dreary as 1998’s like-minded Mutations was heartfelt, Sea Change is at least rendered somewhat listenable by dreamy atmospherics and the occasional/inevitable killer hook punching through the black cloud of blah (“Paper Tiger,” easily one of Beck’s best). Maybe he thought he could cop Ryan Adams’ just-me-and-my-guitar-and-my-fucked-up-hair vibe, but listless groaners like “Round the Bend” and “Already Dead” only paint Beck as the second coming of … Gordon Lightfoot.

SOUNDTRACK Scrubs (Hollywood) *

Funny, funny show; boring, boring soundtrack. While some music-from-the-TV-show compilations push the envelope (see Gilmore Girls above), most play it blander than a network executive-Scrubs may be a daring sitcom, but this batch is second only to Providence’s soundtrack CD (yes, there is one) in ZZZ-inducement. Even the presence of old cuts from John Cale, Shawn Mullins, Guided by Voices and Eels can’t make up for Lazlo Bane’s droopy-eyed theme song or two (!) bedpan-fillers from Men at Work’s Colin Hay. Get the paddles! Clear!

Music CD Revue 1CDDF51A-2BF4-55D0-F1F2C1174655AE19 2007-06-11 16:18:34.0 1 1 28402489-1372-FCBB-8308BACD41058F95 0 2002-10-03 00:00:00.0 0 0
Rebecca Vernon

FOO FIGHTERS One By One (RCA) * * * *

Pure, honest rock ennui is back, children! In their best album yet, the Foo Fighters pour all their untainted angst,